Movie Review

Pokémon: The First Movie

Reviewed by: Josh Bizeau, age 16
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Children
Genre:
Animation
Length:
1 hr. 30 min.
G

Starring: Veronica Taylor, Rachel Lillis, Eric Stuart, Ikue Ootani, Philip Bartlett | Director: Kunihiko Yuyama | Producer: Norman Grossfeld | Writers: Norman Grossfeld, Michael Haigney, Takeshi Shudo | Distributor: Warner Brothers

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Ash Ketchum and his favorite pokemon, Pikachu, in Pokémon: The First Movie

Let me begin by saying that this will probably be one of the most controversial G-rated cartoon movies made in this century. It’s not violent enough to be rated “PG”, but it’s also a little too violent to be rated “G”. There are a lot of things that many parents will not approve of, but other parents may not care either way. Most parents I’ve met are of the latter belief, but there are still many who believe the former.

The plot of the movie is pretty basic. A Pokémon named Mewtwo becomes infuriated at the professors who created him when he finds out that he is just an experiment to be studied over and over again. He destroys the laboratory he is being held in and vows to destroy all humans and Pokémon, but not before he has “cloned” all the existing Pokémon for himself to do his own bidding when he has destroyed everyone else.

Poster: Pokémon The First MovieThere are many scenes with exploding objects (buildings, walls, etc.), but there is no graphic gore or blood given off by any of the movie’s characters. There are also scenes with the Pokémon hitting each other in different ways, and there are other scenes where some Pokémon use their powers against another. This violence will scare many little kids, so this is a definite point to start thinking whether you want your little 6-year old to see this movie. There is—of course—no vulgar language of any kind, and no sexual scenes of any kind.

Some of the positive aspects of this movie include the value of friendship and sticking together in tough times, even when the odds seem against you. Other commendable subjects include the point that violence does not solve every problem in this world. Sometimes, issues need to be talked over rather then tussled over to be solved. And, of course, the basic premise that good triumphs over evil is prevalent in “Pokémon: The First Movie”.

The main topics to talk about in this movie between parents and their children (especially Christian families) is the issue of “Psychic” powers and abilities. Mewtwo and Mew (the Pokémon Mewtwo was cloned after) show off their “Psychic” (or “Magical”) powers in this movie in many ways. Mewtwo simply twirls his hand and an ocean begins to churn and storm with huge waves. Mewtwo creates energy balls with his hand that he throws at many characters during the movie. Mew and Mewtwo both create “shield”-like orbs around themselves before they go into combat with each other and then in the climax of their fight, they both release these massive energy waves. All of this is, of course, fictitious, and is really no more harmful then the “magical” powers that characters use in a Tolkein novel; but many parents may wish to discuss these topics with their children.

The filmmaking quality of this movie is—despite what some critics say—pretty decent. The animation is very good (better then the TV series, at least), the characters are very likeable, and—for a little kid Pokémon fan—there’s never a dull moment in this movie. Parents, however, may want to see it for themselves first before letting their children watch it, for there are many subjects to be discussed in it. But any parent who lets their children watch the TV series regularly should have no problem with their kids seeing this movie.

I am personally a Pokémon fan, and I and my parents have no problems with this popular Japanese TV anime. Other parents that I’ve met feel differently, however, and either view the series as “evil” or as a big “marketing scheme.”

This may not be the best movie of the season, but there are many positive aspects about it. However, with this in mind, there are still some detractions that many Christian believe could be very dangerous to children.

Year of Release—1999

Viewer Comments
Don’t miss an in-depth look at the Pokémon craze, author unknown | Also, a look at the Eastern Mysticism similiarties

Visit TV Spotlight for more information about Pokémon.
—Editor, Christian Spotlight on the Movies

What are Pokémon? They are many (and I mean MANY!) different creatures that each have a unique power. As the story goes, the more you catch, the more power you have. Only GOD can give out true power. I’ll be the first to admit that Pokémon are very cute. When I first heard of Pokémon, I didn’t know what it was, and figured it was just another little kids cartoon. But it’s when I read an article in a magazine, than I became suspicious. It said Pokémon was a “role-playing game.” Now if you don’t know what a role playing game is, it’s a game that can tap in with demons. Now I haven’t seen the evils that are obvious in looking at other role-playing games like “Dungeons and Dragons,” but I know that it is safer for Christians to leave these Pokeman out of there lives. There are things like PSYCHIC POKEMON. And there is no such thing as a good psychic anything! Please don’t get into this evil game or film. The BIBLE clearly warns that the devil will come as “An Angel of Light.” What better a way as to start with little children. POKEMON ARE CREATED BY WIZARDS OF THE COAST, the same people who created the evil MAGIC the Gathering card game! STAY AWAY FROM POKEMON! My Ratings: [1/1]
—D and S, age 16
valuable lessons taught… Despite the slight violent content of this movie, I found it taught very valuable lessons to children and adults. The main one being that the differences on the outside don’t matter, it’s the similarities that matter. We shouldn’t hate each other just because of a few facts and judge each other over them. As Mewtwo says in the movie “The circumstances of one’s birth are irrelevant, it’s what you do with this gift of life that determines who you are.” I think we could all learn from this movie. My Ratings: [5/5]
—Elisabeth Christensen, age 18
some strong points, some weaknesses… I think that the movie has a lot of strong points and some weaknesses. I enjoyed the animation and characters. I like the idea of friendship, not giving up even when conditions make it very difficult to proceed. I also like the idea of setting a goal and striving to reach it, as Ash strives to be a Pokémon master. I also liked the lesson in the movie: Violence solves nothing. And the premise that despite individual differences everyone still can get along. I also liked Ash’s courage and willingness to sacrifice his life for the sake of the others in the movie, friend and foe. Some things that threw some caution into my mind are the psychic abilities and powers some Pokémon posses. The movie at the beginning was very dark and ominous and the villain more sinister than that of the ones in the TV show. My advice to parents would be to view it first and if you do let your child view the movie, use it as a springboard for some discussion about the One who has the real power. If children are interested in it, at least try to use it as a learning experience. My next piece of advice is just simply to, if you don’t feel entirely comfortable with it, employ a means of moderation. Or if you feel you must, eliminate it entirely. Your kids may be mad at you now but in the long run they won’t have missed much. Another thing to keep in mind is that for the most part, the whole thing is fictitious. And the way in which many fads and trends of this day and age come and go. I don’t consider Pokémon entirely a bad thing, although I do not consider it something to totally ignore either. The best thing I could tell concerned parents is to research it, see what, how much and why your children like it and make your own decision based on your family’s needs. I, being an artist myself, am fond of many of the characters purely of because the way they were created but I consider them no more than cute figments of some innovative person’s imagination. If you do decide to let your children partake in this “here today-gone tomorrow” phenomenon, the best thing you can do as a parent is help your children learn to put it all into the proper perspective. This is a skill that will serve them for a lifetime. My Ratings: [3½/4]
—Jamie, age 25
I write in with comments several weeks ago soon after the release of the movie. I have written again with my experience regarding Pokémon. At first I thought it was only an innocent cartoon show. Boy was I wrong. Through my experiences with my eight year old cousin, God has shown me that Pokémon is not for His children. My cousin, whom is very grounded and a very critical thinker, is showing signs of succumbing to the craze in some negative ways. She is very obsessed with Pokémon. She wants to buy pokemon cards at least once a week. She even takes them to church and trades with her friends there. But what bothers me the most though is her sudden newfound interest in witches and special powers. She has asked a family member to see “The Blair Witch Project” a movie to which her parents object to her watching very much. She also is intrigued by the TV show “Sabrina, the Teen-Aged Witch.” I can’t prove that there is a direct correlation but I do feel like something is definitely up with it. So now I’m here to set the record straight. If you believe that Pokémon affects your child in a negative way, do everything you can to get him or her out of it. And if your child doesn’t like Pokémon, discourage them from getting into it. I have learned through this experience that there are far more worthy endevors out there. I certainly will not have anything to do with Pokémon and I will try my best to steer my cousin to Him so that she can witness the True power that comes from God. My Ratings: [1/2]
—Jamie, age 25
marketing campaign… “Pokémon” is a product of a very successful, very aggressive marketing campaign. That’s all it ever has been from its conception within the panelled walls of Nintendo’s corporate headquarters. Unlike “Star Wars,” “Star Trek,” or several other popular titles which have become aggressive marketing enterprises, “Pokémon” has nothing of artistic or visionary beauty behind it. There is nothing in Pokémon to LOVE. No skilled artist or visionary author struggled to bring his or her vision to the masses. Pokémon owes its mass popularity to a lot of skilled marketeers—people skilled at making other people THINK they want something which they would never have given a second thought to if left to themselves. For this reason (and really no other) I shun “Pokémon” just as I shunned the “Power Rangers,” the “Smurfs” and the “Care Bears.” Ranks of once-popular garage-sale rubbish which “Pokémon” is soon to join. My Ratings: [3/1]
—Timothy Blaisdell, age 36
Christian themes… I am greatly concerned by Christians who bash this movie on the basis of the violent content and occult themes. None of the violence is explicit, thus to bash the movie on the basis of violence is akin to bashing Tom and Jerry or the Roadrunner. As to the occult nature of the film, I would like to remind Christians that both the “Lord of the Rings” and C.S. Lewis' “Chronicles of Narnia” contain characters who exhibit supernatural powers. One interesting aspect of the movie is the ending. At the end of the movie the main character sacrifices his life to bring about reconciliation of the world. Does this sound familiar? Does this sound threatening to Christianity? My Ratings: [3½/2½]
—Bill Baugher, age 41
anti-violence message… Apart from concerns about psychic powers which are vaguely portrayed, this movie and the preview are a refreshing break from the premise of the TV series which involves Pokémon trainers fighting their Pokémons. The first movie’s message was that Pokémons left alone by humans will play and work cooperatively. The main feature was sort of an extension of that message, but included the message that Pokémons should not fight because they are different and Pikachu portrays a wonderful display of non-violence, when he refuses to fight his clone (i.e. brother Pokémon) and the animals and trainers are in tears over how hurtful and nonproductive violence and fighting is. Regardless of your opinion about the TV show, these films have one of the best messages for kids, that fighting is wrong, unloving and that even Pokémons don’t want to fight, they want to play and cooperate. My Ratings: [4/3]
—Michelle, age 41
psychic powers and cloning… The movie was a lot scarier than I thought! 1) psychic powers (Mewtwo wanting to destroy the world) 2) cloning. The movie sort of said that cloning was OK and clones were better than the real thing (not true!!). Another thing… I remember one thing from the book “A Wrinkle in Time”… they battled evil with love. I wish something like that would be used here. BE careful—issues should be explained to your children before taking them to see Pokémon. ***Don’t take little ones or kids that scare easily!!*** My Ratings: [3/3]
—In Indiana, age 11
not a positive influence …I find the “Pokémon” excitement something that we as Christians have to look at carefully. My son and I watched the movie and we both enjoyed it like a cartoon. But this movie had no good adults in it. A pokemon trainer was able to create the weather. While the fights have very little injury, the goal is to fight another Pokémon. I enjoy “Star Wars” movies but the goal of “Star Wars” is good fights evil. I do not buy my son Pokémon toys and cards as I do not view this as positive influence on him. My Ratings: [1½/2]
—Darrel Drummond, age 52
stupid but kiddie-appropriate… “Pokémon” is arguably the worst movie ever made. It seems to be mostly an ad for the toys, cards, etc. The plot is contrived, the music is idiotic, and the script is horrifying. On objectionable-ness: There’s cartoon violence. On a theological note, they have cloning and psychic powers (psychic stuff isn’t mentioned in the Bible but many people seem to have objections to it). Final Note: This movie is stupid, but it’s kiddie-appropriate. My Ratings: [4/1]
—Matt Quinn, age 15
Positive—“Pokémon: The First Movie” has a beautiful soundtrack and very beautiful message towards the end. The way Ash sacrificed himself to stop all of the violence was amazing. Even better is he turns out to be alright. Squeaky clean in terms of sexuality, language, drugs, and alcohol. While Mewtwo does say some world-conquering desires, he repents of this evil.

I’m going to say a few things about Pokémon. It is NOT occultic, violent, Darwinistic, etc. The psychic Pokémon are nothing like ancient world occultists, their abilities are part of their scientific, biological makeup. Even so, there are no séances, communication with the dead, sorcery, spell-casting, etc. Ghost type pokemon are not even the ghosts of dead creatures, so they are not occultic either. Just read the Guide2games articles, they do their research and don’t twist anything up. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Peter, age 22 (USA)
Movie Critics
…unusually large amount of violence for a G-rated film… poorly animated… featherweight plot…
—Loren Eaton, Plugged In, Focus on the Family
…Many battles and/or fights occur between the Pokémon creatures, with different ones being punched, hit or blasted…
—ScreenIt
…magical… psychic powers… These powers and occultic-type games have caused considerable concern among discerning parents, teachers and Christian observers, partly because they encourage children to develop “supernatural powers within themselves.
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review